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Despite being down 10-0 in the fifth inning, Molalla roared back to life in the later innings

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Though Molalla softball lost the game, the team showed fire and determination in battling back against Corbett after disastrous opening innings. The fifth inning was the swinning point, when Molalla put up 12 runs in the bottom of the fifth. Molalla's softball team wasn't ready to call it a season just yet.

Trailing 10-0 in the fifth inning last week against Corbett, just three outs away from a mercy-rule loss to end the year.

Instead, the Indians put together a mind-blowing 12-run inning that saw the team bat through its lineup twice.

Emily Gates sent an RBI-double into the right-field gap to put Molalla onto the scoreboard and take the 10-run rule off. Teammates Analiz Wickham and Katelyn Streett would also connect for doubles.

"We've struggled this season, so it was a really big moment for us to put something special together for our seniors," Streett said.

But it wasn't until Molalla's second time through the lineup that the visitors from Corbett would start to get nervous.

Gates returned to the batter's box and sent an RBI-single through the right side that closed the gap to 10-7 and put the tying run on base. Corbett had a chance to get out of the inning moments later, but Makaylah Kluken's slow roller slipped under the pitcher's glove to keep the rally alive.

The Cardinals made a pitching switch, sending their starter Kara Moritz back to the circle.

Molalla welcomed her with three consecutive hits.

Wickham sent an RBI-single to left field, and Streett hammered a two-run double past the right fielder that pushed the Indians in front 11-10. Molalla would add another run on Amanda Wendell's high fly ball that dropped just in front of the left-field fence.

"It was rally time, the closer we got the more we got pumped up," said Molalla's Lexie Calkins, who drew two walks during the comeback.

Corbett finally escaped the inning when Moritz caught a shoulder-high line drive in the circle.

Around this same time, Madras reported its 19-16 win over Crook County to the OSAA website.

That meant Corbett needed a win to keep its postseason hopes alive — the pressure was on.

The Cardinals responded immediately with four runs in the top of the sixth, highlighted by Faith McQueen's two-run homer to left field. Molalla got out of the inning when Streett tracked down a backhanded catch on the run in right field.

The Indians got one run back when Wickham sent an RBI-single to right field in the bottom of the sixth.

A key play in the seventh inning kept Molalla within striking distance. Morgan Stafford hit a sharp line drive up the middle that deflected off the tip of Wickham's glove in the pitcher's circle, sending the Cardinals' lead runner breaking for home. But Calkins smartly backed up the play, charging the ball on the right side and tossing to first base to get the hitter for the third out.

"It was important to keep the ball in front of us, take our time and get the outs," Calkins said.

Molalla tied the game in the bottom of the seventh on a sacrifice ground ball by Rachel DeRosa and appeared on their way to a monumental win after Gates sent a laser shot into left field. But Riley Mandzij saved the season for Corbett by going horizontal for a diving catch inches off the grass to send the game into extra innings.

Corbett put two runs on base in the eighth inning, only to see Wickham knock down a comebacker in the circle, scooped the ball off the infield and get the third out with a toss to first base.

Wickham came up with a double in the bottom of the eighth, but back-to-back ground balls stranded the winning run at third base.

Corbett went down in order in the ninth with Wickham striking out the last two batters.

Molalla loaded the bases with one out in its turn with the bats. Corbett escaped the jam when Moritz gloved back-to-back one-hoppers at the front of the circle and made careful tosses home to get the force outs.

At his point, the home plate umpire waved his hands over his head and suspended play due to darkness.

After 222 minutes of softball and 29 stranded runners, nothing had been settled.

The teams returned to Molalla the next evening to resume play in the 10th inning.

A two-out rally would sent the Cardinals to an 18-15 win.

Lindsey Flegel hit an RBI-single to bring Abigail Fritz home with the international tiebreaker run. Isabella Morales would draw a bases-loaded walk to force another run home, and Serena Stencil applied the final touch with a two-run single to center field.

Molalla would get its lead runner home in the bottom of the 10th before Moritz ended the game with a strikeout.

View photos are davidball.smugmug.com.

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